Being able to work from home or check emails on your smart phone sounds like a great idea at first. After all, working from home allows you to eliminate your commute which should both save you money and allow you to spend more time with your family.
The downside is that the line between work and home blurs and your day job can start interfering with your home life. Growing up, my dad never had a job where he worked from home or even gave any thought to the office during his free time. He punched out at 5 o’clock every day and that was it.
But for myself and many other young workers, work has a way of intruding on your personal life. It takes vigilance and the ability to say “no” to avoid getting sucked in.
For example, my family recently spent a week on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I was badly in need of a restful vacation and I made a conscious decision to avoid work altogether (this is especially challenging since I am also an entrepreneurship-minded blogger who spends much of his free time building a side business).
While on vacation I got a few text messages from my coworkers. None of them were important, they were mostly just complaining about something or keeping me updated on the rumor mill. I ignored them all.
Then I got a call from the office at 11 P.M. on a Friday night (the Friday of Labor Day weekend no less) asking for help researching a big issue. I could have made a couple calls and gathered some information to help them solve the issue…but screw that!
I politely reminded them that I was on vacation, 400 miles from home, hadn’t been in work for six days, and had no idea what had happened. I told them to call someone else and went back to lounging on the deck with a glass of wine.
There was no way I was gonna let someone mess with my vacation!
Nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I had spent more time at the office”.
— Rabbi Harold Kushner
No matter how much lip service companies give to a work/life balance and the importance of family, most of them don’t give a damn about you or your family.
I know, sad but true.
Everyone says that they put family first, but often their actions don’t jive with their words. If you truly want to prioritize your personal life then you have to being willing to say “no” and accept the consequences.
People who don’t have a family (or don’t mind being away from them) may hold your family first attitude against you. It could affect your performance review or prospects for a promotion.
Personally, I don’t worry much about that. I have a strong reputation and I know I’m a valued employee. But people also know that when push comes to shove I put my family first.
What about you? Do you bring work on vacation? Do you ever struggle to separate work time from home time?
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